Skip to main content

Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

See other formats


EABLY INDIAN CHRISTIANITY.                                        69
a Br&bman would be likely to meet with Christian traditions. There the Church
lias had a continuous, though a feeble and struggling existence, from the very
earliest Apostolic times* down to the present; and it mnst be admitted that
there is no intrinsic improbability in supposing that ths Narrative of the Gospel
may have exercised on some Hindu sectarian a similar influence to that which
the Pentateuch and the Talmud had on the founder of Islam. Nor are the
differences between the authentic legends of Judaism and the perversions of them
that appear in the Kuran very much greater than those which distinguish the
life of Christ from the life of Krishna. But after all that can be urged there
is no historical basis for the supposed connection between the two narratives,
which probably would never have been suggested but for the similarity of
name. Now? that is certainly a purely accidental coincidence ; for Christos is
as obviously a Greek as Krishna is a Sanskrit formation, and the roots from
which the two words are severally derived are entirely different.
The similarity of doctrine is perhaps a yet more curious phenomenon, and
Dr. Lorinser, in his German version of the Bhagavad Giia, which is the most
* According to Eosebiua, the Apostle who Tisited India was not Thomas, but Bar&holomew
There la, however, ao earlier tradition to confirm the latter name; while the* Acts of S. Thomas*—
though apocryphal— a*e mentioned bj Epiphanius, -who was consecrated Bishop of Salamis about
3es A.D., and are attributed by Photius to Lucius Charinas, by later scholars to Bardesanes at tb»
end of the second century. Anyhow, they are ancient, and as it would have been against the
writer's interest to contradict; established facts, the probability is that his historical ground-
work— S. Thomas* Tisit to India—is correct. That Christianity still continued to exist there,
after the time o£ the Apostles, is proved by the statement of Eusebius that Pantanus, the teacher
of Clemens Alexandrians, visited the country in the second century and brought back with
him to Alexandria a copy of the Hebrew Gospel of S. Matthew. S. Chrysostom also speaks of a
translation into the Indian tongue of a Gospel or Catechism ; a Metropolitan of Persia and India
attended the Council of Nice ; and the hexesiarch Mani, put to death about 272 A.D., wrote an
Epistle to the Indians. Much stress, however, must not be laid on these latter facts, since India
in early times was & term of very wide extent. According; to tradition S. Thomas founded seven
Churches in Malabar, the names of which are given and are certainly old ; and in the sixth cen-
tury, Cosinas Indico-pleustes, a Byzantine monk, speaks of a Church at Male (Malabar) with a
Bishop in the town of Kalliena (Kalyfo) w-ho had been conscecrated In Persia. The sculptured
crosses which S. Francis X&rier and other Catholic Missionaries supposed to be relics of S. Thomas
hare Pahlavi inscriptions, from the character of which it is surmised that they are not of earlier
date than the seventh or eighth century. The old connection bet ween Malabar and Edessa is proba-
My to be explained by the fact that 8. Thomas was^as Euaebius and other ecclesiastical historians
describe him, the Apostle of Edessa, while Pahlavi, which is an Aramean dialect of Assyria, may
well have been known and used as far north as that city, since it was the language of the Persian
Court. From Aotiocb, which is not many miles distant from ancient JEdessa, and to which the
Bdessa Church wai made mbjeet, the Malabar Christians have ••from a very early period received.
their Bishops.
18